Some said he had pulled a belly muscle reaching for a third slice of Black Cap Gateau at the series-clinching tea, cake and gloating party in Mirpur. One theory suggested that a crack team of Special Services operatives from the Sports Sabotage Unit at the New Zealand High Commission had infiltrated the Bangladeshi team hotel and downloaded every episode of How I Met Your Mother onto his hard drive, leading to mirth-induced abdominal tearing. It sounded pretty implausible.
Whatever the reason, there was a Tamim-sized hole at the top of the order, and when his replacement, Ziaur Rahman, came out to bat with Shamsur Rahman, the intrepid twosome were staring up at a big pile of runs, on top of which was sitting a particularly smug-looking kiwi. So how do you defeat a metaphorical flightless bird that has the high ground?
The Bangladeshi way: death or glory; or embarrassingly low total making a mockery of their status as professional cricketers or glory. Say Ziaur slowly and it sounds like the noise a sports car makes as it flies past you in the outside lane, spraying water across your windscreen and screaming towards the horizon, chased by a police car. That was how he batted.
The home commentators outlined a plan in which Ziaur was to lay a foundation rather than swing wildly from the start. I get the impression that Bangladeshi pundits have been peddling this same plan for many years, yet every time it is explained to the players, it receives the same response that you get when you suggest to a group of millionaire teenagers that saving it for a rainy day is definitely the best thing to do with money.
Besides, when you are Tamim's replacement, you have to out-Tamim Tamim. If you're filling in for Andrea Bocelli, you can't shuffle onto the stage, hum a few Sinatra tunes and hope no one notices you. No, Ziaur knew he had to seize the stage, the day, the game, and everything else it was possible to seize, then shake them vigorously until they acknowledged his supreme authority as Lord of Batsmen and begged him to put them down.
This disconnect between the wishes of the commentators and the natural inclinations of the batsmen produced some surreal commentary, in which the men in the booth talked about the game they wanted to be watching, and Ziaur and Shamsur just did their thing.
"If he can play for ten to 15 overs then that run rate will come down."
Ziaur swishes at a wide half-volley and misses.
"You need to be careful."
Ziaur hoicks at a bouncer.
"Bit of a kamikaze move. Going nowhere with that shot."
Ziaur tries to pull a short one and gets nowhere near it.
"He's got to be aware of the possibility of picking up quick singles."
Ziaur conjures up a glorious back-foot Sehwag-style smash through the covers for four.
"Certainly Ziaur Rehman showing his intent to throw his bat around."
Indeed, and he had the wit to keep hold of one end of it too. Shamsur wasn't listening to the commentators either:
"Shamsur should just hold himself back. Try to rotate the strike."
Bash. Without moving his feet, Shamsur lashes it for six over long-on.
And so it went on. My favourite shot came in the fourth over. Milne pitched one up outside off and Shamsur sent his left foot towards mid-on, his right foot towards point and pulled off an eye-popping slice-slash over cover for six. Milne's response was to stand there looking hurt, as though Shamsur had forgotten his birthday. Then he scratched his nose. You could almost see him thinking, "Should I say something nasty to a man who has just slice-slashed me for six, or should I just stand here quietly and pick my nose?"
Ziaur was out in the eighth over, but by this stage there were already several holes in the dam of New Zealand's imposing total, and every time they thought they'd plugged one, runs began to leak from a different place. Shamsur, Naeem and Nasir chipped away, and the steadily streaming run rate became a torrent, then a flood, until the metaphorical kiwi toppled from its perch, and the fibreglass tiger on top of the pavilion roof uttered an imaginary roar to celebrate Bangladesh's second-best one-day international run chase ever.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here
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